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Incorporate dried chickpeas into a balanced diet

Incorporate dried chickpeas into a balanced diet

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, have wandered from their indigenous homeland of the Near East into recipes flirting with a variety of cultures. These legumes are making appearances in the kitchens of seasoned and novice cooks, whom may or may not know what to do with dried chickpeas.


Do

Do understand how to select & prepare dried chickpeas

Chickpeas are commonly sold dried or canned. While both are economical choices, purchasing dried beans from bulk will end up costing less.

Regardless if you are using a pressure cooker or stove top, when using dried chickpeas, you must first select and sort beans by placing them on a tray, towel, or cooking sheet. Discard beans that are discolored, shriveled, or broken and remove debris and stones.

The sorted beans should then be placed in a colander and rinsed with cold water before proceeding with either cooking method.

Do know how to appropriately cook dried chickpeas

A bit of planning and soaking chickpeas can save you hours of cooking time later. If you have soaked chickpeas (12 hours), apply the following for cooking them:

Stove Top:
Place sorted and rinsed dried chickpeas in a large pot and cover with approximately three times the amount of water. Parboil for 10 minutes before skimming and discarding foam. The lid can then be replaced. Reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Pressure Cooker:
Note: Knowledge of how to safely use a pressure cooker is essential prior to implementing this method for cooking dried chickpeas.

Place sorted and rinsed dried chickpeas in a pressure cooker and cover with approximately 2 inches of water. Exact liquid volume depends on the age, size and quality of the selected beans. Parboil for 10 minutes and then skim and discard foam. Replace the lid and lock lid into place. Establish pressure and pressure cook for 20 minutes.

Do apply additional measures to improve digestibility of chickpeas

To check when beans are done (for either method), err on the tender side. To test, use a slotted spoon to remove several beans from pot and let cool to preference and taste. Beans are done once they mash easily on the roof of your mouth using just your tongue.
Drain in strainer and rinse with cool water.

Several ingredients and seasonings that increase the digestibility of beans can be incorporated into either cooking method.

Kombu, a sea vegetable, contains glutamic acid and assists in the breakdown of difficult-to-digest oligosaccharides. Place a one inch strip of dry kombu in the pot for every one cup of dry beans.

Fennel, ginger and cumin can also be added to the cooking water to help improve digestibility.

Since salt disrupts the cooking process, only salt beans after they are completely cooked.

Do experiment with the versatility of chickpeas

Chickpeas should not only be digestible, but tender, flavorful and incorporated into a variety of dishes to enhance the nutritional profile of anything created in the kitchen.

Chickpeas can be used cooked and whole or ground in a variety of dishes including:

  • Over green salads
  • Added into soups
  • Seasoned and served as a side for any meal (warm or cold)
  • Added into chili and stews
  • Dips (Hummus, chickpea yogurt dip)
  • Spreads
  • Snacks (roasted chickpea ‘nuts’)
  • Falafel or fritters
  • Pancakes
  • Bread (Socca or flatbread)
  • Burgers
  • Pizza crust

Do understand the nutritional highlights of beans

Understanding how chickpeas contribute nutritionally to meals may encourage you to include them more frequently.

Beans are high in fiber and protein, as well as folate, potassium and magnesium.

A single serving (1/2 of a cup) of cooked beans provides approximately 6 grams of dietary fiber and 7 grams of protein.

The same serving provides 141 micrograms of folate, which is over one-third of the recommended dietary allowance for adults age 19 years and older. Potassium in a serving of cooked beans may be as high as 230 milligrams, and magnesium at approximately 40 milligrams.
 


Don't

Do not forget to soak chickpeas in advance to save you cooking time later

Soaking chickpeas decreases cooking time significantly, saving energy and saving you time.

Do not avoid using dried unsoaked chickpeas if you forgot to soak the beans

If you have forgotten to soak beans, dried chickpeas can still be included in your upcoming meal and can be cooked via two methods. Chickpeas can be cooked over a long, slow simmer, or can be cooked using a pressure cooker.

Stove Top:
Cooking unsoaked chickpeas over a stove top takes approximately five times longer than using a pressure cooker, and double the amount of time than with soaked beans using the same method. But, if you insist:

Place sorted and rinsed dried chickpeas in a large pot and cover with approximately three times the amount of water. Parboil for 10 minutes before skimming and discarding foam. The lid can then be replaced. Reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately three hours.

Pressure Cooker:
Note: Knowledge of how to safely use a pressure cooker is essential prior to implementing this method for cooking dried chickpeas.

Place sorted and rinsed dried chickpeas in a pressure cooker and cover with approximately 2 inches of water. Exact liquid volume depends on the age, size and quality of the selected beans. Parboil for 10 minutes and then skim and discard foam. Replace the lid and lock lid into place. Establish pressure and pressure cook for 40 to 50 minutes.

Do not shy away from chickpeas because of their reputation of being difficult to digest

If you have taken some of the additional steps to improve digestibility of beans (listed above), you may find chickpeas are relatively easy to digest.

Another way to improve digestibility is to slowly increase and build up your intake of beans over time. By incorporating beans in a variety of ways, in salads, soups, sides, dips, spreads, or incorporated into breads and baked goods, you will better tolerate and be able to enjoy and embrace chickpeas in the future!
 


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Chickpeas are a welcome addition to any kitchen. After properly preparing and cooking chickpeas, these tender, flavorful legumes can be embraced into a variety of dishes to add a nutritional punch while being pleasantly digestible. Enjoy!


More expert advice about Nutrition

Photo Credits: chickpeas by Flickr: bour3; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Tarynne Mingione, RD CDClinical Pediatric Dietitian

Tarynne presently works at Seattle Children's Hospital as a clinical pediatric dietitian. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University, where she also completed her dietetic internship. She has a diverse resume includin...

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